Opinion

Old Geezer: Fish and clams that I have known and loved!


With not much more to do, I spent a rainy day looking out at the bay and the ocean and did some day dreaming. Maybe it was a disappointing dinner in a restaurant a few weeks ago is what sparked these thoughts about the proper cooking of sea food and other innovations that I have enjoyed in the past.

Walt Trandum

Growing up just a short distance from Puget Sound in Washington and then spending my last quarter century plus looking at salt water from my front window partly qualifies me as a seafood expert.

 

Everyone that I know enjoys both salmon and halibut and particularly if it has been properly prepared and cooked. Other than when used in soup or chowder, it really needs to be cooked quickly and served immediately. A salmon filet fried in butter with a dash of “Johnnies Dock” seasoning is delicious

 

I have prepared salmon on a plank leaning over an open fire or on a barbecue and it always came out just perfect if I didn’t leave it over the fire too long. Most kinds of fish can be fried or broiled quickly and if properly seasoned they can all be delicious.

 

When I traveled in Europe I found out that most people eat both clams and oysters raw. In a very fine restaurant I watched a waiter leave the building with a large tray and then return with it heaped with fresh oysters purchased from a vendor on the street. That meal prompted me to comment to a local citizen that we did eat them that way some times but mostly we fried them. He told me that cooking was a crazy thing and questioned just how much of them was left and how could they taste good.

 

One of the finest sea foods in the world is the razor clam that we have on our sandy sea shore. The problem is that not many restaurants cook them properly. I recently paid a pretty price for just two them that had been heavily breaded and then overcooked served on a bed of lettuce with a small dab of coleslaw. The taste wasn’t too bad but a large part of them could not be chewed. The following has been taken from a very old cookbook that I have in my collection. “Clams are naturally plump, tasty creatures. Since more than any other way, they are eaten raw, it is obvious that they need very little cooking when you elect to cook them. All heat will do, not for them, but rather to them, is make them tough and leathery.”

 

Another disappointment was the time I ordered the “Captains Plate” that included four different kinds of sea food. Unfortunately they were all deep fried and while not too bad they all tasted about the same.

 

For many years we had a group of former fellow employees come down to our place and had a reunion that started out as a three day affair but dwindled to an overnighter in the later years. One of the features over
the years was the cooking on a grill over charcoal coals and enjoying of several bushels of oysters. The place where I bought them is long gone but I learned something that few people know. When storing oysters for any length of time they should never be covered with ice. The reason is that the extreme cold kills them and they start to deteriorate. A wet gunny sack and a scoop of ice on it is all that is needed in a cooler. One of those little morsels dipped in butter is a great treat for lots of people while others shudder at the thought of eating one.

 

A taste that I acquired when I was just a young man working in the fish canneries in Alaska was pickled herring. Later in life I found out that eating them smoked was a treat..

 

Right here in Nehalem bay we have a tasty item that few people know about. That would be the Eastern soft shell clams. They are a bit of a challenge to dig and cleaning them is tedious but the result is a clam that tastes much like the Razor clam and they should always be cooked quickly in the manner described above..

 

I guess that is all that I can think about this subject but the message is to remember that when preparing or thinking about sea food to always “KEEP CLAM!